Whenever I have driven from Leeds to Harrogate via Harwood House, I have seen a ruin in the woods, just as the road bends to the left and descends towards the river Wharf. I have often thought about taking a look although I had always thought it was out of bounds. However, Fran & I discovered an interesting footpath from a small car park in Harewood Village on Church Lane, next to the Muddy Boots Café that we thought we would explore.
Harewood house is very well known, but not many people know about Harewood’s abandoned castle and even fewer know how to get there. If you have parked at the car park where the Muddy Boots Café is located, walk towards the back end of the car park and walk past the cottages on your left and the house on the right, this little street is Bondgate. On your left-hand side, you will see a little stone walled passageway, just follow the path through the little stone tunnel and after a steep decent you will finally arrive at the ruins of the 14th century Harewood Castle.
Harewood Castle was founded by the De Lisle family, the castle was thought to be more of a domestic home than a fortification. The castle was lived in until at least 1630, but when it was bought by Sir John Cutler in 1656, the castle was abandoned and derelict. When Sir Cutler bought it, the building had been put up for sale as an ‘upstanding source of stone and timber’. The ruins remained a landmark in Harewood, even after the Lascelles family bought the land and built the impressive Harewood House. In 1797, J.M.W. Turner even painted the castle.